Milton Haig, head coach of the Georgian national rugby union team, expresses his disappointment with the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) for their chosen venue for the upcoming tournament.
The Georgia national rugby union team, also known as The Lelos, represents Georgia in rugby tournaments. More importantly, the team represents Georgia in the annual European Nations Cup. This is in addition to the Rugby World Cup occurring every four years.
Milton Haig, from New Zealand, is the head of the Georgian rugby team. He lives in Tbilisi with his wife and two daughters, both of whom speak fluent Georgian.
The Lelos have an upcoming match this month in November in Scotland. This is after their unbeaten victories during their Pacific Islands tour in 2016 against Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. This is in addition to their triumph against Russia and Romania in March 2016,
The SRU’s decided to hold the match at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park of East Ayrshire,Scotland.
However, Haig expressed his displease with the decision as he had hoped to play at the larger stadium of Murrayfield.
“To some degree, it’s disrespectful,” Haig said. “It would have been something special to play there,” he added.
Although, Haig believes that the decision to uphold the match at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park will motivate the Georgian team to prove that they are deserving of a larger stage, audience, and admiration.
Moreover, Haig believes that the predicament will attract attention to the northern hemisphere.
“It is a chance for us to prove something,” he added.
Mainly, the SRU arrived to the decision of hosting the match in Ayrshire for two reasons. Firstly, the SRU has continuously held international matches in venues located outside the capital. And this match is no different. Secondly, the SRU believes the Georgian team will not attract an audience to fill the Murrayfield’s capacity of 67,000 people.
“It could be a decision that comes back to bite them,” Haig stated.
Despite the absence of the encouragement from the organizers, Haig believes that the upcoming match “could be the most important window we’ve ever had.”
Apart from the leading Six Nations winning within the last six years, Georgia has arisen to be Europe’s best team.
The Georgian rugby team, ranked 11th in the world, could skyrocket into the top 10 before the end of the year.
Additionally, Georgia plays in the second-tier competition of the Rugby Europe International Championships. Consequently, the team has qualified to participate in the upcoming 2019 World Cup.
“The World Cup last year and the success we achieved on tour in the Pacific earlier this year were great, but going into the top ten would be us breaking barriers,” says Haig.
With the hopeful victory of November’s match in Scotland, the Georgian rugby team will prove their capabilities and earn the respect and admiration of a new audience.